George V. Coyne, S.J., Ph.D.

Nobel Conference 49
Oct. 1 & 2, 2013

George V. Coyne, S.J., Ph.D., McDevitt Chair of Religious Philosophy, Le Moyne College, Syracuse, N.Y.; emeritus director of the Vatican Observatory and former head of the observatory’s research group based at the University of Arizona, Tucson

A Jesuit priest, George Coyne was director of the Vatican Observatory hosted by the Mount Graham International Observatory in southeastern Arizona from 1978 to 2006 and spearheaded several new educational and research initiatives. His research interests have been in polarimetric studies of various subjects, which can reveal the properties of cosmic dust and synchrotron radiation regions in galaxies.

Coyne completed a bachelor’s degree in mathematics at Fordham University, New York, in 1958 and earned a doctorate in astronomy at Georgetown University in 1962. A member of the Society of Jesus since he was 18, he enrolled for a Licentiate in Sacred Theology at Woodstock College in Maryland and was ordained a Roman Catholic priest in 1965. Following stints at the University of Arizona’s Lunar and Planetary Laboratory (LPL) and as a visiting astronomer at the Vatican Observatory, Coyne joined the Vatican Observatory in 1969 as an astronomer and became an assistant professor at the LPL in 1970. He went on to serve as director of the University of Arizona’s Catalina Observatory, associate director of Arizona’s Steward Observatory and the LPL, and acting director of the university’s astronomy department. In January 2012, Coyne left the observatory research group to take up a chair at Le Moyne College, Syracuse, New York, where he is teaching astronomy and developing a lecture series addressing the science and religion dialogue. He remains president of the Vatican Observatory Foundation.